Jewish lesbians! Sinister country houses! Shell art! These are but a few of the wondrous things you will find in Rose Lerner’s latest book, The Wife in the Attic, an f/f retelling of Jane Eyre that’s out now as an Audible Original. I got to talk to Rose about this book, her research for it, why Mr. Rochester did nothing wrong if he’s telling the truth, and her favorite Holmes/Watson AU, the Bunny and Raffles stories. “Whatever, I don’t need to justify Raffles’s behavior,” said Rose at one point, whereupon she immediately justified Raffles’s behavior. (I was convinced, for what it’s worth.) You can listen to the podcast in the embedded player below, or download it directly to take with you on the go!

Episode 143

Things We Discussed

The Wife in the Attic, Rose Lerner
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Knight’s Castle, Edward Eager
Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott
Rebecca and Rowena, William Makepeace Thackeray
Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
My Cousin Rachel, Daphne du Maurier
Castle Rackrent, Maria Edgeworth
Here’s the deal with Lady Elizabeth Cathcart.
All or Nothing, Rose Lerner
True Pretenses, Rose Lerner
Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century, Graham Robb
this is the guy Rose Lerner thinks Thomas Jefferson had killed
This is the Morris Kaplan book I was talking about re: Oscar Wilde. Coincidentally, it also goes into depth on one of the two scandals Rose is talking about, the Cleveland Street Affair! The other scandal she references is a newspaper series on sex trafficking by WT Stead.
In for a Penny, Rose Lerner
A Civil Contract, Georgette Heyer
The Amateur Cracksman, EW Hornung
Mr. Justice Raffles, EW Hornung
The Charioteer, Mary Renault
Rose Lerner’s AMA with Elsa Lepecki Bean, the audiobook narrator
Big Bad Wolf, Suleikha Snyder
The Edwardians and Their Houses: The New Life of Old England, Timothy Brittain-Catlin

You can find Rose Lerner at her website, on Twitter, or at her Patreon! The book again is The Wife in the Attic.

You can get at me on Twitter, email the podcast, and friend me (Gin Jenny) and Whiskey Jenny on Goodreads. As a brand new feature, you can also follow me (Gin Jenny) and Whiskey Jenny on Storygraph! If you like what we do, support us on Patreon. Or if you wish, you can find us on iTunes (and if you enjoy the podcast, give us a good rating! We appreciate it very very much).

Credits
Producer: Captain Hammer
Photo credit: The Illustrious Annalee
Theme song by: Jessie Barbour

Transcript

Gin Jenny

Welcome to the Reading the End Bookcast with the Demographically Similar Jennys. I’m Gin Jenny, and I am here with Rose Lerner, an amazing romance author whose latest book, The Wife in the Attic, is out now as an Audible Original. Rose, welcome to the podcast!

Rose Lerner

Hi, I’m so excited to be here.

Gin Jenny

Um, can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and a little bit about the book?

Rose Lerner

Sure. I have been a historical romance author, I would say my best known books are the Lively St. Lemeston small town series. And then this book I’m branching out a little bit into gothics um, it’s still set in the same world as the Lively St. Lemeston books, but it is quite a bit darker. And it is also my first F/F book. I’m very excited about that. And it is my first audiobook as well.

Gin Jenny

Awesome. Yay. So it is inspired by Jane Eyre, which is one of my favorite books in the whole world. What is your relationship to Jane Eyre?

Rose Lerner

I also love Jane Eyre. Yeah, quite a bit. Yeah.

Gin Jenny

When did you read it for the first time?

Rose Lerner

I think I was 10, my mom read it to me.

Gin Jenny

She read it to you, the whole thing? That’s amazing!

Rose Lerner

Yeah, I mean, we like did a lot there’s a lot of reading aloud to my family. And it started— I really wanted to read Ivanhoe because I had read this like children’s fanfiction of Ivanhoe called Knight’s Castle.

Gin Jenny

Oh my god. Yeah, we experienced the same Ivanhoe trajectory.

Rose Lerner

Okay, so I was obsessed with Knight’s Castle, I wanted to read Ivanhoe and I was like nine, you know, and my mom was like, well, I feel like emotionally you’re ready for Ivanhoe but maybe like reading Ivanhoe might be like a little beyond you. So like, I will read you Ivanhoe. I think she maybe regretted that decision.

Gin Jenny

It’s so long.

Rose Lerner

Well, she I think she skipped, like I think she abridged it, but um, but like, I she had to at one point make a rule that I could not talk about Ivanhoe at the dinner table because—

Gin Jenny

Oh, my God, it’s like looking in a mirror. I also read Ivanhoe, I read Ivanhoe, when I was nine. I did not consult my mother first. And it’s very long. It’s really difficult for a nine year old to get—

Rose Lerner

Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I had a lot of questions, like my mom explained a lot of things to me.

Gin Jenny

My recollection of Knight’s Castle is that it’s very hostile towards the actual ending of Ivanhoe. Right doesn’t want Ivanhoe to get with Rebecca. [Note: I said Rebecca, but I meant Rowena.]

Rose Lerner

I would say that like there’s a large Ivanhoe/Rebecca contingent. William Thackeray wrote that sequel where Ivanhoe gets with Rebecca, you read that?

Gin Jenny

I haven’t. I’ve heard of it, but I haven’t read it because I tried to read Vanity Fair in college and really couldn’t get on with it. So I haven’t tried it.

Rose Lerner

Oh, okay. Okay, I love Thackeray; I like really, really love Thackeray.

 

Gin Jenny

Maybe I’ll give him another try. It’s been a really long time and I was pretty depressed in college so I don’t think it’s a representative sample of like my response.

Rose Lerner

The thing about Rebecca, I believe the sequel is called Rebecca and Rowena. Is that it? Rebecca does convert to Christianity to marry Ivanhoe, which sucks, but a very clearly Thackeray was like this will not stand! And there are some very good jokes in it, like there’s this whole bit like Ivanhoe goes back to the crusades, as in disguise. Then he becomes known as the night of the wig and spectacles. I cannot emphasize enough how hilarious that is to

Gin Jenny

Oh my God, I feel like I need to do an entire like reread Knight’s Castle reread Ivanhoe and then read the Thackeray fanfic of it.

Rose Lerner

Oh my god, I would be down for that as like a book group situation. Oh my god.

Gin Jenny

I have to say when I’ve when I’ve reread Edward Eager, it is much more racist than I remember. Overall.

Rose Lerner

I would believe that. Knight’s Castle is the only one I really remember very strongly.

Gin Jenny

Okay, did you read the other ones or not at all?

Rose Lerner

I think I read all the books in that series. So I read Half Magic, Time Garden.

Gin Jenny

Time Garden. That was my favorite. It’s very racist, unfortunately. I don’t know if you remember, but there’s a time when they go back to a Revolutionary War era. They get attacked by Native Americans. It is really yeah, it’s really intense. And then also, there’s the whole thing where they go back in time to Civil War era and then they’re like part of the Underground Railroad and so the children rescue this Black family, which isn’t as like hostile as the Revolutionary War, but it’s still pretty dicey.

 

Rose Lerner

I completely believe you. Clearly I repressed the whole thing.

Gin Jenny

Well, I did too. I reread them and I was like, Oh my god, I remember none of this.

Rose Lerner

Yeah, I mean, I definitely like shipped Rebecca with Brian de Bois Gilbert, which is such a problematic ship, but I did not like Ivanhoe. I thought Ivanhoe was dull. I was like, okay, obviously Brian who needs to like learn, you know, the error of his ways. And also, Rebecca so like, he’s a he’s like an atheist. I feel like he has like a sexy face scar. I’m pretty sure he has a sexy face scar.

Gin Jenny

I mean, that all sounds completely correct.

Rose Lerner

I definitely wrote a sequel to Ivanhoe, as like a 10 year old. It was my first long form work.

Gin Jenny

My first long form work was a story called The cat, the dog, the mouse and the fairy.

Rose Lerner

Amazing.

Gin Jenny

I was like four. I remember dictating it to my mother’s godson.

Rose Lerner

Wait, how long form?

Gin Jenny

I was four! To me, it seemed very long. It was the bulk of one of those— Remember those little memo pads that are about the size of like, a business card and a half?

Rose Lerner

Okay, I had written things that like before! This is my first actually—

Gin Jenny

I mean, when you’re four—

Rose Lerner

Not to denigrate it! I’m just clarifying that when I said long form, I really did mean novel.

Gin Jenny

Anyway, so you read Jane Eyre in your youth? Because I feel like Jane Eyre/Rochester is my most original like trash ship.

Rose Lerner

I might have older trash ships, but certainly, yes.

Gin Jenny

I got a bit older and read Rebecca. And I felt pretty shippy about horrible, horrible Maxim de Winter, who’s an awful person?

Rose Lerner

Really?

Gin Jenny

I know. Right?

Rose Lerner

I definitely shipped her with Frank when I read the book, which is such a nice guy tm. And that was a terrible choice as well. But like, I was like, ditch this guy and marry Frank.

Gin Jenny

I mean, as an adult, I think she should just take the dog and run.

Rose Lerner

But I mean, she’s also trash, right? Like, right? That’s the thing like, she comes into her own at the point where she is like, really owns like, her misogyny and how much she hates Rebecca. It’s like, I’m an empowered woman now! It’s like, Wait a second.

Gin Jenny

This is a bad decision.

Rose Lerner

Oh, it’s such a bad decision! Coming into your own as a woman by helping your husband get away with murder is the wrong call.

Gin Jenny

it sure is. Well, that was something that I really loved about The Wife in the Attic, because I think the Gothic novel inherently, because it tends to be that sort of setup where there’s a, you know, a woman who doesn’t have that much power, and she’s in this spooky house with a guy who may or may not mean her ill. And I feel like the gaslighting that the more powerful man does is really inherent to the genre. Yes. So I thought it was so amazing that in The Wife in the Attic, it actually turns out that like, Sir Kit is a pretty bad dude, and will definitely harm her.

Rose Lerner

I mean, look, you know, I did want there to be like some ambiguity. I certainly know what I think. But I did try to leave it so that there was some room for the reader to like, have their own opinion about like how evil Sir Kit is. However, I think I made my position plain. But I really love like, have you seen or read My Cousin Rachel? Okay, so I really wanted kind of that thing, right? Where it’s like, I saw that movie. And I was like, clearly Rachel did nothing wrong. But like, I read a lot of reviews and they were like, clearly Rachel was a murderer. This is a movie about misogyny, sir! They were convinced that actually she was poisoning him and like, that’s not disproved. Like she could be poisoning him. It’s just a much less satisfying story that way. Right?

Gin Jenny

Right.

Rose Lerner

I definitely wanted there to be that space for the reader to be like, I don’t think Sir Kit did anything. I think they made it all up. Like I talked to the narrator, but I was like, I don’t want him to have like an evil voice. Like, I know, I want there to be that space. Because I feel like that ambiguity is like even if you feel caught, right, the fact that like, I feel confident that Rachel didn’t, didn’t do anything, it’s still more satisfying that it’s not said.

Gin Jenny

Yes, yeah.

Rose Lerner

To me, choosing what I believe I think is part of the satisfaction. And so like, I really wanted the reader to have that.

Gin Jenny

Yeah, no, I thought that was really effective. Because he— Yeah, like you said, he’s almost certainly doing terrible things. But there is space to be like, Is he though?

Rose Lerner

And I also wanted like Miss Oliver to not have that certainty, you know, because yes, she has to make a decision and act despite not being sure. And like that is difficult for her.

Gin Jenny

So one thing also that I thought was interesting is that although this is very clearly inspired by Jane Eyre, you’ve changed the characters quite a bit. So how did you decide what to keep from the original novel and what to throw out and change?

Rose Lerner

You know, Jane Eyre is certainly like one of the main inspirations for the book, and I did reread it while I was writing the book, but still good, right? It’s so good. I mean, there’s, you know, there’s a lot of things now as an adult, where I’m like, Oh, yeah, this is racist or like this is—But I still I do love it. And I think that I have as an adult a new appreciation for the like, I think as a kid when I would reread it, I would skip right to her going to Thornfield. And skip the early part. I think as an adult, I have like a new appreciation for that.

Gin Jenny

Yeah, the very gay. Yes.

Rose Lerner

Helen Burns, Helen Burns forever. But I also drew on other stories. So like Castle Rackrent by Maria Edgeworth, one of the episodes in it is about a guy who keeps his Jewish wife locked in her room to try to get her jewels.

Gin Jenny

Oh, my God.

Rose Lerner

That story in Maria Edgeworth was based on a real case with Lord and Lady Cathcart.

Gin Jenny

What happened to her?

Rose Lerner

I believe that he died and they found her in her room. And they were like, Oh, my God, what is going on here, we thought you were sick.

Gin Jenny

Oh my God, that’s horrible. Well, I really hope he died and that she just had like a fucking bomb life after that.

Rose Lerner

In the Maria Edgeworth, in the Rackrent book, the guy’s actually named Sir Kit and I was gonna change it, but I didn’t because it was too—

Gin Jenny

Yeah, that’s great.

Rose Lerner

So the deal in that book is— It’s so good. Everyone thinks his wife is sick. And like he, all the ladies in the neighborhood are competing over who’s going to be his second wife, when his first wife dies. Sir Kit is in a duel with one of their brothers and dies. The Jewish wife takes all her stuff, and she goes back to England and she’s like, peace.

Gin Jenny

Oh, man, I’m so happy for her.

Rose Lerner

But so I actually read that for a previous book, All Or Nothing, I was like, just needed a book for someone to be reading, you know, in a scene or whatever. And I picked that book, and so I read it then. And I was like, What if there was a governess? So it’s kind of like there’s a lot of different kind of narratives that I’m drawing on. But I think the main thing with Jane Eyre is that if—I mean, look. I love Mr. Rochester.

Gin Jenny

Oh my God, me too, even though he’s the worst.

Rose Lerner

And I’ve said this before, and like, I think not everyone agrees with me. But like, if Mr. Rochester is telling the truth about what happened with his first wife, fundamentally, you know, he has not done anything unforgivable I think, with his first wife, if what he says is true.

Gin Jenny

No, I completely agree. Because to my understanding of what passed for mental health care at the time, you know, she was not in a good situation, but she would not have been in a better situation had he sent her to an institutions.

Rose Lerner

Absolutely not. I mean, this the horror stories about men, I mean, there was like a whole like, I just read a thing. It was like, pardon the slur, but the headline of the expose was like, how all the lunatics are being smothered or something like that. I mean, there was like, horrifying. If you look in the OED, I was looking up the word asylum to see if the word asylum was used. And there’s an entry in there for asylum ear. Asylum ear is a malformation of the ear that was common in asylum patients. And there was an argument made that it was somehow a symptom of like a spontaneous symptom of mental illness. However, it looks just like boxer’s ear.

Gin Jenny

What is boxer’s ear?

Rose Lerner

It’s when you get punched in the side of the head enough your ear starts to be shaped weird. This was just very clearly a symptom of physical abuse, that they were trying to pass off as like— So obviously the situation with the first Mrs. Rochester is not ideal, but like, it’s unclear what a better one would be if again, if what Mr. Rochester is saying is true, but there’s no way to know if what Mr. Rochester is saying is true. If he’s lying, he could have done anything.

My parents actually, when they were first together, they wrote law review article called, I believe, Sex Discrimination in the Mental Institutionalization of Women or something like that. It was actually pretty influential. Like if you Google it, it’s like cited a lot and stuff. There were certainly many men who wanted to get rid of their wives and couldn’t get a divorce or wanted to keep their wives’ money or whatever it was and had them institutionalized because it was fairly easy. So you have to trust his word. And like that’s, I think the essential horror of the Gothic is the necessity in life of taking things on faith, because you only have access to your own internal life, you know? You have to evaluate with really very little information, like what is going on outside of yourself and like, make important decisions, you know?

Gin Jenny

Yeah, no, for sure. Yeah. Well, I think Miss Oliver is kind of worried through a lot of the book that she is making decisions on the basis of Jael being Jewish, and her feeling a kinship to her. And I wondered if you could give us a little background on how Judaism was viewed in England at this time? And what kind of actual risks Miss Oliver is facing as, as a Jewish woman and particularly a poor Jewish woman?

Rose Lerner

What do you mean by risks? I guess?

Gin Jenny

Well, so she’s very concerned about being found out through most of the book that of being Jewish, and she kind of talks around it a lot. And then towards the end of the book, she’s a little more open about it. So I was wondering kind of what it was like to live as a Jewish woman—

Rose Lerner

Well, I mean, so the reason that that she’s pretending to not be Jewish is because she doesn’t want Sir Kit to know. It wasn’t a secret before, right. Like it wasn’t a secret when she lived in Lively St. Lemeston. It didn’t come up a lot because like, her mother was dead, and she lived there with her father, who was a Methodist. And like, you know, when she mentioned it, people acted weird. She just didn’t talk about it that much. But it wasn’t a secret. When she comes to Golden Grove, she pretends to not be Jewish, because she thinks that because Sir Kit specifically wants like a good English education for his daughter, and she figures if he knows that she’s Jewish, he won’t think that she’s qualified to give a good English education, and she’ll be fired. And Lady Tassell makes that recommendation to her.

Gin Jenny

Oh, that’s right. I forgot that happened.

Rose Lerner

Yeah, it’s not just that her mother’s Jewish either. It’s that her mother was working class. She’s also hiding that. Obviously. I’m not trying to downplay like, there was certainly like mob violence against Jewish people, you know, as there always was. I think in Lively St. Lemeston, most of the risks were probably like, a lot of microaggressions.

Gin Jenny

Uh-huh, yeah. I think I do have a general sense of what it would be like in lively sent lemons den from my favorite of your books, True Pretences, which is about a Jewish guy who comes and falls in love accidentally, sort of, with a wealthy Englishwoman.

Rose Lerner

And he’s in the same boat, right? Where he could be openly Jewish, but he doesn’t want to because he doesn’t want to deal with the bullshit. And again, also, he’s also passing, right, there’s a class element there.

Gin Jenny

Right, right. He’s pretending to be a little posher than he is

Rose Lerner

Jael, though, people know that she’s Jewish, and like, she was living as a Jewish person, right? It’s not. It’s not like Portugal, where it was illegal.

Gin Jenny

So can you talk a little bit about your research on queer women of this period? And what we kind of do and don’t know about what queer women were up to in this time?

Rose Lerner

I definitely always recommend Strangers: Homosexual Love in the 19th Century by Graham Rob, if anybody’s interested in this topic, and they want kind of a starting point. The nice thing for queer women was that only male like homosexual sex was illegal, right? Obviously, there were still social risks, but you were not going to be like prosecuted. There were certainly, I mean, as now, there are always a lot of queer people in the world. There were many queer people in Regency England, the most famous were probably the Ladies of Llangollen, who were celebrities.

Gin Jenny

I don’t know about them, please tell me about them.

Rose Lerner

Oh my gosh. Okay, so this lady Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Something or maybe it’s Eleanor Ponsonby and Lady Sarah Something Else. I don’t remember. They eloped together and went to Wales and were living in— And I believe they basically elope together because I think Lady Sarah’s family was trying to marry her off or something, and then eventually, their families agreed that they could live together in this house in Wales. And they were like celebrities, and I don’t remember, I think I think they were just independently wealthy but they were like, literary celebrities, like poets and stuff were always visiting them. I haven’t read too much about them, but they were kind of the like, lesbian icons. Like people knew who they were. Wordsworth went to visit them, and Coleridge went to visit them, and there was like, a lot of like, speculation about the nature of their relationship, because like, most people assumed that they were a lesbian couple, but like, obviously, they didn’t say so. So there was like, this space for people to like gossip and speculate about it. There was an incident where their local newspaper published like an article about them and it said that like— It didn’t say that they were lesbians, but it said, it basically said that, like Lady Sarah was femme and like, Eleanor was butch. They were like, incensed and they like wanted to sue the paper for libel, which they did not but like—

Gin Jenny

Yeah, I was just gonna say that seems like a terrible idea.

Rose Lerner

It didn’t work out for Oscar Wilde, but like, there are a lot of factors right, like— It didn’t work out for him because the standards of libel in England are very different. In US law, truth is a complete defense to libel if you can prove that what you said was true. It’s not libel, Alexander Hamilton gets some credit for this too, because so there were the Sedition Acts. Sorry, I don’t need to go into this.

Gin Jenny

No, please. I’m so curious. No, please tell me more.

Rose Lerner

So there were the Sedition Acts, which are passed under Adams to stifle criticism of Adams in the press, which of course, Thomas Jefferson said was a great injustice, as it was. Then when Thomas Jefferson became president, he immediately started prosecuting journalists. So there was this guy James Callender, who I’m like, fairly sure that someone in the Jefferson party machine, if not Jefferson himself, arranged to have whacked. And if you want to hear all about that, I have a very, very long blog post about it on my website; I don’t want to go into all that because we’ll be here all day.

But this guy James Callender had been a hatchet man—he was a journalist, he had been a hatchet man for Jefferson. And then they had a falling out because he wanted like a political, he wanted like a sinecure, and when Jefferson became president, Jefferson didn’t want to give it to him. So Callender then started publishing takedowns, and he was actually the guy that first broke the Sally Hemings story. So he had written this book that was called like The State of the United States in 1798, or something like that, and was this like, pamphlet that was put out during the election, I think about how Adams was terrible, but it also talked a lot of shit about George Washington, which was like fairly taboo among like, sort of politicians at the time, right? Like Jefferson would never have said anything nasty publicly about George Washington. But he financed this pamphlet secretly. So Callender revealed that Jefferson had paid for the publication of this pamphlet being nasty about George Washington, and Jefferson tried to have it shut down under the using the Sedition Act. Some of the details on this might be a little, because I read this a long time ago, but like the core of this is accurate. The editor of a New York newspaper that reprinted the Callender story, he was prosecuted under the Sedition Act. So he lost it, but then Hamilton argued his appeal. Hamilton argued the appeal for Croswell, and he made like one of— You know, like, this is apparently normal. He talked for like eight hours. Apparently that was normal, not just for him, but for like lawyers in general. Like, an eight-hour statement in court was not unusual, which is wild.

Gin Jenny

I’m such an old lady. I can’t sit still for one hour.

Rose Lerner

But apparently, it was like incredible, like people that saw it were like blown away by like how poetic it was, and how amazingly eloquent, but he argued that truth should be a defense to libel. That kind of was set as precedent at that time. But in England, it’s very different. You have to, if something is defamatory, it doesn’t necessarily matter whether it’s true. Which is why with the Oscar Wilde case, the Marquess of Queensberry didn’t just need to prove that what he said was true; he needed to prove that there was a public interest for him to make the information public in order to defend the libel suit, which is why things got so out of hand.

Gin Jenny

Well, but even I think for the Ladies of Llangolen, I think there’s always just that risk that someone will find it worth their while— Because in the Oscar Wilde case, I mean, I don’t know if this is true, but Morris Kaplan or somebody argued that the reason that they prosecuted the Oscar Wilde stuff so vigorously is that because the current prime minister was Lord Rosebery, and he was potentially implicated, not in the Oscar Wilde case, but that there was a risk that Oscar Wilde’s boyfriend’s dad would reveal that Lord Rosebery had been boning Oscar Wilde’s boyfriend’s older brother, who was now deceased. Sorry, that’s a little bit like in the weeds.

Rose Lerner

Like, it seems like the fact that there were a bunch of lords that had got away with like, predatory sexual stuff in like,The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon Scandal and the Cleveland Street Scandal. They needed to prove that they were actually like, Oscar Wilde was somebody that didn’t have any connections to protect him. So they can make an example of him. But yeah, so the Ladies of Llangollen, I mean, maybe they could have sued this paper, but they didn’t. But the point is, people at the time, and if you read like, there’s a lot of like odes to them and stuff, and they often emphasize very strongly that their friendship is pure. The only reason they need to say that is because obviously their friendship was probably not pure, and so in order to like, be respectful, they needed to like— Anyway, you know, but Byron, for example, wrote a letter to one of his friends about, I believe, him and John Edleston, and he compares them to like a list of like famous queer lovers. It’s very cute. I wish I could remember who all he names, but he names the Ladies of Llangollen, and then he says that they only need a reversal or whatever to give David and Jonathan the go-by. But yeah, so the Ladies of Llangolen were like queer celebrities at the time.

Gin Jenny

I definitely need to read a book about them. They sound amazing.

Rose Lerner

Yeah, I want to read more about them too. But I have not yet but like, I’ve always really enjoyed knowing who like the icons were at the time during mean like.

Gin Jenny

Yes, yeah, just the kind of reference points. So what research did you do for this book specifically, what was the trickiest bit?

Rose Lerner

I mean, I did a lot of research as I went, like, a lot of the stuff was stuff I’d already researched. Like, I’d already researched like, marriage breakdown and the Regency. I finally read my married women’s property rights book for this, that was sitting on my shelf for a long time. You know, so I mostly needed to research like the location and then little things that came up as I went like good luck charms, and like, were there blood oranges?

Gin Jenny

Oh, my God, the blood oranges were very creepy.

Rose Lerner

Marsh sheep. You know what I mean? Like, little things that came up like the weather, things like that.

Gin Jenny

Yeah. So The Wife in the Attic is kind of I think, fanficcy, and I was wondering if you were a romance reader first or a fic reader first.

Rose Lerner

Well, that’s kind of a complicated question because like obviously, I was writing Ivanhoe fanfiction and reading—like Knight’s Castle is fanfiction. So it depends on like, how you define it. I mean, in terms of like, genre romance, I was reading genre romance starting in middle school, and I didn’t discover sort of like online fanfiction communities until college. So I definitely was a romance reader first. But like, I was writing fanfiction long before then; I just didn’t—I just was doing it by myself. You know what I mean? And I think that genre fiction is sort of inherently related to fanfic because it’s so intertextual. Right? Genre and genre conventions operate rather similarly to fannish spaces, writing in response to like other— You know, my first my first published book was a retelling of a Heyer book that I didn’t like.

Gin Jenny

Wait, I didn’t know that. What Heyer book? I’ve only read like two of her books.

Rose Lerner

A Civil Contract.

Gin Jenny

I might— My mom probably owns that. I’ll look for it.

Rose Lerner

Don’t read it.

Gin Jenny

Don’t read it? What’s wrong with it?

Rose Lerner

So have you have you read In for a Penny?

Gin Jenny

Yeah, it was one of the very first romance novels I read ever.

Rose Lerner

Ah, so it has a very similar plot to In for a Penny. Except that it sucks. And it’s really classist, it’s like really awful about her dad. It’s one of Heyer’s only books where the hero is not madly in love with the heroine by the end because she’s like gross and middle class, and he can never feel that way about her, so they just have like a partnership or whatever. And some people really love that book because they’re like, yes, realistic partnership marriage. It’s like—the only reason for that that is because she’s ugly because she’s poor. And it’s also really like fatphobic, I just I hate it so deeply. Let’s end it at that because I will be like spewing frothing rage like very quickly.

Gin Jenny

Well, instead of that, listeners, y’all should definitely read In for a Penny. It was probably the second or third romance novel— The first romance novel I ever read was, um, oh, God, I can’t remember the title. It was a Courtney Milan book, and the heroine’s name was Jenny and I was like, yeah, I’m gonna try that one because we have the same name.

Rose Lerner

Oh my gosh, I have such a bad memory.

Gin Jenny

That’s the thing. I’m so bad at titles. It’s the woman, she’s a psychic.

Rose Lerner

Is that the one where she’s a medium? Proof by Seduction!

Gin Jenny

Proof by Seduction, oh my God. You’re a genius. Yeah, so she’s a she’s a medium—

Rose Lerner

As a math major. I love that title.

Gin Jenny

Yeah, she’s a pretend medium and she is kind of helping this guy, I think his name is Nick, and his brother is like, oh, how dare you, you know, talk to my brother, and he comes to like, stop her.

Rose Lerner

The rest is history.

Gin Jenny

Well, I think it had some of the same elements that I really loved about True Pretenses where she is kind of scamming him, but kind of she also really, like cares about him and wants him to prosper.

Rose Lerner

That’s a very generous description of what happened. I mean, obviously like Ash doesn’t do anything to Lydia, but I mean, you know, he’s choosing to be a con artist. He’s not acting in anybody’s best interest except his own, which is valid, you know?

 

Gin Jenny

His and his brother’s, yeah. Um, so you got into fic in college. How did you encounter it first?

Rose Lerner

I knew about it because I had a friend that read Buffy fic, but um, I think I started really reading friend of mine recommended the Cassie Claire Draco trilogy, and I really, really loved that. And then I started reading a lot of like Harry Potter fic. I also started reading like Buffy fic, but I was just lurking at that time. It wasn’t until later that I started like writing fanfiction as well. And I don’t wanna be like, too specific about like, what—and dox myself, but—

Gin Jenny

So you were a Harry/Draco fanfic reader.

Rose Lerner

I was when I read all—Like I read pretty widely like I wasn’t too picky about ships, but definitely that was probably my top ship. But like I read a lot of different— Yeah, I didn’t really go in for the intergenerational. I never have, like, you know, I never read like Snape/Hermione or whatever. But like in terms of the kids, like I would read basically, almost anything.

Gin Jenny

My shoulders went up around my ears when you said that. Actually, this is one thing that really struck me when I was reading The Wife in the Attic is that Miss Oliver says something about that there were all these situations at her school that all the students knew about. They were kind of imbalances of power, but they didn’t tell anyone. But everyone knew. And it really felt consonant with my own school experience.

Rose Lerner

Yeah, me too. You knew who the teachers were that were creeps. But like, yes, did you go to the principal and be like, That teacher’s a creep? No, because like, the principal must—like, No! You didn’t!

Gin Jenny

Well and also, I went to the principal with like, I remember this so vividly. It was shortly after 9/11. And on the morning announcements, they had started doing this thing where they were having a moment of silence for like the troops in Iraq, right. And I went to the principal’s office, and I was like bros like we’re bombing Baghdad, like, maybe we should have a moment of silence for the civilians of Baghdad, and the principal was so unreceptive to that. She was like, I don’t think there have been any casualties. Like, I think it’s probably fine— So I mean, the idea that someone would have listened to me if I had been like, oh, the algebra teacher kind of creeps me out is beyond comprehension. Even now as an adult.

Rose Lerner

Yeah, yeah.

Gin Jenny

So what fandoms are you reading in these days?

Rose Lerner

You know, I haven’t really been reading that much. I did have like a brief Harry Potter nostalgia moment before all of this JK Rowling stuff—

Gin Jenny

Yeah. Now it’s extremely complicated.

Rose Lerner

Yeah. Now, it’s complicated. I mean, I kind of always have thought that JK Rowling was problematic. And so I think it wasn’t as big a shift or disillusionment for me as it was for some people. Definitely the fic that I’ve always liked the most has been the most sort of critical of the original text, I would say. So I don’t necessarily feel like I have to stop reading it or whatever. But this happened to be before that. It wasn’t as fraught but like, I don’t read as much as I used to, just in general, I really want to make more time for that. But like, I think if I make more time for reading that I really want to make more time for like research. Yeah, I’m not really reading a ton of fic. I did read a whole bunch of Raffles fic recently, but I didn’t really find like that much good stuff.

Gin Jenny

Oh, great. So okay, since you have brought it up, please tell us about Bunny and Raffles.

Rose Lerner

Are you serious?

Gin Jenny

Yes, of course. I am serious. I know about it because I’m on your Twitter, but the listeners need to know.

Rose Lerner

So cut me off when I’ve gone too long. Otherwise, I will literally just talk indefinitely at this point.

So Bunny and Raffles are the main characters in the Raffles stories by EW Hornung, who was Arthur Conan Doyle’s brother-in-law, and they are basically a Holmes/Watson gay jewel thief AU. I was initially concerned that there was maybe some kind of situation with EW Hornung and Arthur Conan Doyle and like I feel at this point pretty confident there wasn’t and it was simply that EW Hornung was a Holmes Watson shipper before he met Arthur Conan Doyle. So he was excited to meet Arthur Conan Doyle and then he fell in love with his sister. I’m pretty sure there was nothing weird going on there. So that’s nice because I’m very invested in EW Hornung’s marriage to Connie Doyle. They seem lovely and like in the Raffles stories, everything is very poly all the time. So I feel good about it. But so like everybody’s wife understands, like always! In Mr Justice Raffles, which is the novel which is like not that great and really antisemitic, so don’t necessarily recommend it, but there is some good stuff in it. The plot is that like, it’s like a flashback like being written now but it’s a flashback and like there’s like this guy who’s like on the cricket team with Raffles, and he tries to like forge a check from— I don’t remember honestly most of the plot, but he’s got this girlfriend who had kind of a flirtation with Raffles, but Raffles like cut it off because he’s with Bunny, and he’s also you know, a burglar. So he was like, This obviously isn’t going anywhere, to kind of cut it off. And she started dating this guy, Teddy. And so but Raffles likes her. And so he wants to prevent Teddy from being ruined. And all this stuff happens. The point is, it ends on this little like framing device where Bunny is like in the Turkish Baths on Cumberland Avenue. He runs into Teddy many years later, obviously. And Teddy is like, Oh, hey, and he’s like, even though I’m now like a disgraced criminal, like you still are saying hi to me. And Teddy’s like whatever. Teddy’s like you should write more about Raffles, like I want to hear more about and he’s like, I’ve kind of written everything I have to say. And he’s like, well, you never wrote about our story. But he is like, so you don’t care if I talk about how you like tried to forge a check? And like your wife was like dating Raffles, and he was like.

your wife wouldn’t mind? He’s like, me and my wife would both be thrilled. Just change our names! We both loved him! And Bunny is like, wow, I always kind of thought this guy was a jerk, but like he seems okay. Also the number of women that Bunny has bonded with over how they’re both in love with Raffles. It’s kind of incredible.

So anyway, Bunny and Raffles were at prep school together. So I’m gonna use the word that’s a slur in other contexts, but in this context, it refers to a younger student who was sort of a servant to an older student and kind of did like chores and errands for them. Yeah, it was called fagging. So he was Raffles’ fag at school, and Raffles would like sneak out in the middle of the night and like, pretty clearly go cruising. I mean, it doesn’t say that. But it’s like he would wander around town and a fake mustache and a checked suit. What was he doing? And Bunny’s job was to let him back in when he got back.

It’s now been many years. You know, Raffles is now like an amateur cricket player, which means that he’s a gentleman and he plays cricket. But he’s not paid, right? He’s not paid to play cricket but he plays it as if he was a professional player, like they get him to come and do matches and he’s on a team and there are professionals on the team as well. It’s a very complicated, I don’t really fully understand it myself. The fact that he’s an amateur cricket player, doesn’t mean that he’s like not professional level, it just means that he is not paid because he is a gentleman. But so he’s an amateur cricket player, but he’s like very, very good. It happens to be the Ides of March. I really feel like Raffles set this all up. It happens to be the Ides of March. Raffles happens to very clearly be a serious Brutus/Cassius shipper, happens to invite Bunny over for the first time in years on the Ides of March.

So Bunny has come into some money a few years earlier. So it seems pretty clear that Raffles was planning to like win a bunch of money off Bunny. Bunny comes over, loses all this money at cards, doesn’t have the cash so he writes checks for the amount that he owes, leaves, comes back, and is like, Raffles, I’m actually completely broke. Content warning suicide but he’s like, I’m completely broke. I don’t have the money to pay my debts of honor. Those checks are not worth the paper they’re written on. I’m desperate. And Raffles is like, what? I thought—really? And Bunny’s like, yes. He’s like, Okay, well, can you sell your furniture? Like Raffles has all these plans for how Bunny’s gonna make money including, you used to edit the lit mag, didn’t you? Couldn’t you like write— And it’s like, there’s no way that Bunny was editor of the lit mag when they were at school together because like Bunny was a freshman and Raffles was like a senior, so he’s clearly been keeping tabs on Bunny in the meantime.

Bunny shoots this down, he’s like, no, I’m just completely broke. Raffles is like, thinking and Bunny is like, Never mind, like I’m leaving, and Raffles is like, No, like I can’t you leave until you tell me where you’re going and what you mean to do. Bunny’s like CAN’T YOU GUESS, and Raffles is like, Yes, that’s why I’m not letting you leave the house. And then Bunny is like, FINE! I’ll just do it right here!, and he like whips out his gun and he’s like, gonna shoot himself. And like, Raffles is like— Raffles is such a creep!

Gin Jenny

He is! Yeah, no, this part really—Raffles is like, oh, I really admire you for—

Rose Lerner

Raffles is like clearly turned on and Bunny’s like, you’re such a creep! And Raffles is like, sorry, and then he takes the gun, he’s like, I’m keeping this gun, I’m taking the bullets out like you can’t— It’s over now. Sorry about being a creep. So he’s like, don’t worry, like I’m gonna make this right for you, but I’m also broke. I really was excited about winning that money from you because I thought my problems were solved, but we’re just gonna roll with the punches. I really respect that Raffles does not hold a grudge for this because clearly like he needed that money.

Gin Jenny

Yeah, he’s so chill about it.

Rose Lerner

He’s so chill, he doesn’t reproach Bunny at all, it’s like, well, I guess I gotta take my lumps. He’s like it’s cool, I have this whole plan, like we’re gonna go borrow some money from a friend of mine. And by the way, he puts on a soft felt hat and a cover coat, which is a reference, I’m pretty sure to [Tulanie?] which is like a queer porn novel, which also features like a similar scene where like the character puts on a soft felt hat. Anyway, turns out Raffles is a burglar, he like kind of springs it on Bunny that like, Oh, we’re burgling now. Bunny’s like, what? We’re burgling now? He’s like yeah, I like wanted to tell you but I was like, embarrassed, but you did say he was like, Bunny, like so, we’re gonna get your money but like, are you cool with it if it’s a little shady? And Bunny’s like, No problem! And he’s like, What it’s a crime? and Bunny’s like, Name your crime and I’m your man!

It’s so gay. Okay, so they’re like burgling and Raffles is like, I shouldn’t have sprung this on you. I’m sorry. It’s all my fault. Like, you don’t have to stay, you can just go, I know you won’t like tell anyone about how I’m a burglar, it’s fine. Bunny’s like, but like, are you gonna be okay? Were you already planning to burgle this place, or are you just doing it because like I was broke? Raffles is like, Well, this is a two-man job, and I was considering doing it by myself but it’s very dangerous to do it by myself so I was very excited when I won all that money from you, because then I didn’t have to go do this two-man job by myself. Bunny’s like, Okay, I’ll do this one job with you, cause I don’t want to leave you in the lurch. Today they do this burgling, it’s very gay, they describe like Raffles drilling the lock, it’s a metaphor for anal sex.

Gin Jenny

Yeah, listeners, whatever you’re imagining it’s like twice gay as that.

Rose Lerner

People continually think I’m exaggerating and then they read it and they’re like, oh you undersold it. Raffles like inserts a forefinger into an orifice at one point and then he gets all his four fingers in up to the thumb, it’s very clearly—

Gin Jenny

Yeah it’s staggeringly gay.

Rose Lerner

They do this burgling, and then it emphasizes very strongly that it’s a felony and so what you have to understand is that the misdemeanor for gay sex was gross indecency, which was sort of unspecified what it was. But the main felony was sodomy, which is like anal sex. So, it’s emphasized very strongly that like Bunny and Raffles have now committed a felony together. That is how they joined felonious forces on the Ides of March.

So they do this crime, they go back home, Bunny is like, what have I done, I’m a burglar now. I should not love Raffles anymore, he’s like, oh but I’m still into Raffles. So, Raffles Is like okay like see? We’re burglars, great! I’m so excited for our life of being burglars together, and Bunny’s like what? Raffles is like, I mean, I thought now we’re burgling together? And Bunny is like, this is a one off, like I’m not looking to be a professional burglar now, and Raffles is like, you said you would do anything for me—you said I had only name your crime—but I knew you didn’t mean it. It’s fine. I’ll pay your debts, it’s fine. Just come tomorrow for the cash, but like don’t you see how great it would be if we were burglars together? And Bunny is like, I don’t think we should burglars together, and Raffles wants him to stay so bad. Anyway, finally Raffles is like, you’re right, I’m worse than wrong, go, it’s fine, and then Bunny is like, NO! I’LL STAY!!!

Gin Jenny

See, it’s funny, because if it were me and I was trying to entice someone to a life of crime, I would have been like, No, I totally get what you’re saying, how about we just do one more and see how it goes and then you can see how you feel after one more crime! And if you’re still feeling good, we’ll do like more crimes.

Rose Lerner

Well the thing is that like it’s not always clear— Like Bunny tends to assume that Raffles is being manipulative, like purposely manipulative, when he does this, like, “It’s okay, Bunny, you don’t have to” thing, but I feel like it’s sort of ambiguous. And even if it is manipulative, I think that doesn’t mean it’s not also genuine. Generally I think Raffles doesn’t want to pressure Bunny into life of crime; he just really wants a life of crime with Bunny. I think he means it when he’s like, I’ll stop asking you to be my partner in crime forever, but like, also that is clearly very effective on Bunny. Like that gets Bunny every time. It’s so good. And then they’re just together forever.

Bunny likes to pretend that like he likes Raffles more than Raffles likes him, but like the, like it’s absurd, the degree to which— Raffles literally basically was like let’s get married after like one date. And Bunny is always like accusing Raffles, of like, like there’s a story where like, Raffles does a crime and Bunny is like, you couldn’t possibly have done this by yourself. Clearly you’ve brought somebody else in, like I always thought you would, and Raffles is like. One is enough, Bunny.

Gin Jenny

Oh, gasp!

Rose Lerner

And I’m not saying Bunny isn’t useful. Bunny is useful, but if Raffles was simply hiring, Bunny would not probably have been his choice. He loves Bunny, like he’s always telling Bunny how much he loves him and how useful Bunny is and how he trusts Bunny, and how he knows— And Bunny is just like, Raffles doesn’t care about me. I pine, I pine alone. It’s like, Raffles just told you that he thought about you all day, that he couldn’t do without you, and that like all he wants in life is to be friends with you and then like, go to the club and have champagne.

So there’s like this whole thing where they get caught and like ruined and like Bunny goes to jail and Raffles escapes, leaving Bunny behind which is bad but of course, Raffles, staying would not have helped Bunny. But it is very sad.

Gin Jenny

Oh God, that sounds so sad, I haven’t gotten to that point yet, that sounds terrible!

Rose Lerner

It’s really sad, especially because like, this is the other thing! People are always like, Raffles isn’t nice enough to Bunny! Bunny has left Raffles multiple times; Raffles has never tried to leave Bunny and like consistently plots and plans to get him back. Bunny has dumped Raffles to try to go straight, but now is broke, and like kind of wishing that he could go back without—like not lose face, but he like doesn’t know how. Raffles, of course, doesn’t know that, so he has come up with a whole plan where he’s going to tell Bunny that they’re going on a cruise to Italy, and he’s gonna spring this on him that they’re going to steal this giant pearl that he chose as their target because Bunny wrote a poem about it in the paper. And Bunny’s like, but how are we going to fence the pearl?, and Raffles is like, well I thought we could rent a pearl fishery for like several months.

Gin Jenny

Oh my god I’m crying. That’s so funny.

Rose Lerner

And Raffles is paying for the cruise, like Bunny is like, I can’t afford to go on an Italian cruise; he’s like, It’s on me. Taking Bunny out this romantic cruise. He does the crime naked, like he’s pulling out all the stops, and he’s flirting with this girl, he’s flirting with her so she’ll tell him where the pearl is. Bunny is like dying of jealousy. He like hates this girl, and it’s so good because like, EW Hornung does the thing where like the subtext is the text and the text is the subtext. So it’s like this plot with this girl is like, in theory, like a straight cover for the gay love story. Right? Bunny straight up says, the narrator, Raffles didn’t like this girl, he was just flirting with her to make me jealous. Literally there’s like two lines where like Raffles sort of like looks conflicted or something, to sort of hint that maybe secretly he actually likes this girl, and all the straights are like, Raffles is in love with that girl! It’s like, Bunny told you! You didn’t listen!

But they get caught. And Raffles jumps off the side of the ship, leaving Bunny behind.

Gin Jenny, visibly upset

Oh.

Rose Lerner

The thing is that, like—I mean, whatever, I don’t need to justify Raffles’s behavior. Obviously he’s not always the best boyfriend, but if he stayed I think it actually would have ended up being worse because in his trial, all of this further incriminating information about Bunny would have come out, right, and like, he would have gotten a much longer sentence than Bunny because Bunny is his sidekick, and like he’s done a lot more crime. Bunny only gets like a year and a half, because it corresponds to Oscar Wilde’s prison sentence. Like if you look at the date that Bunny serves, it’s the dates that Oscar Wilde—like it corresponds to the dates of Oscar Wilde’s sentence.

Gin Jenny

Oh God that’s heartbreaking

Rose Lerner

And Horning wrote the first collection while he was staying in Italy with his wife like just down the street from Oscar Wilde and Alfred Douglas. I do need to clarify that Raffles does come back for Bunny when he gets out of jail like immediately. Immediately! And then he tries to play it off like it’s a coincidence, and it’s like, right, you just happened to come back like the week that Bunny got out and then immediately set up a really romantic reunion crime that involves you like buying him an engagement ring.

Gin Jenny

Oh my God. That’s the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard.

Rose Lerner

Oh my God, it’s so romantic. He buys the engagement ring. Then they, together they steal the wedding ring, and then Raffles says, “But some things are worth paying for, and some risks you must always take.” Bunny has been writing exposes in the newspaper about the prison system, which are based on Oscar what like Oscar Wilde wrote exposes of the prison system when he got out. Right so, Bunny has been writing exposes on the prison system anonymously and Raffles recognizes his style. He goes to Bunny’s editor to get his address and like, talks him into giving him Bunny’s address and then he’s like, I danced down the stairs with your address in my pocket. Like I cannot emphasize enough how romantic this.

Gin Jenny

I’m clutching my face. I like, oh my God.

Rose Lerner

There’s a point where Raffles makes a joke about how they should be buried together in a golden— He steals this golden cup. He refuses to sell it because he loves it, and Bunny is like, I can’t even be mad. This is just absurd at this point, like, what are you going to do with that cup? And he’s like, When I die, Bunny, cremate me and put my ashes in yonder cup and bury us together in the deep delved Earth. Now it actually took me a couple times reading this to realize that when he says us he does not mean me and the cup. He means him and Bunny. Then I realize that this is a reference to Achilles and Patroclus’s burial.

Gin Jenny

Oh my god, you’re kidding. I should know this! I’m ashamed of myself.

Rose Lerner

Their ashes were buried together in a golden vase. Bunny does not recognize it. Raffles quotes it, and Bunny is like, What is that? Like it sounds kind of familiar! Raffles is like, Never mind. Bunny thinks about it and he’s like, oh my God, I wrote that. It’s like, what has Raffles been doing in all the intervening years? Just thinking about how one day he’s gonna have Bunny again?

Gin Jenny

No, I assume that’s what he was doing. Yeah, I’m nodding vigorously. Have you read The Charioteer by Mary Renault?

Rose Lerner

Maybe? I read a couple of hers but I don’t remember—in like high school, but I don’t remember which ones.

Gin Jenny

So The Charioteer is one of her like modern setting novels so it’s set during World War II.

Rose Lerner

Okay, I don’t think I did, then.

Gin Jenny

It is excellent. It has a lot of, I mean, like many of her books it has a lot of issues. However, the premise is that there’s this guy called Laurie, he has this enormous crush on his prefect in school, and his prefect is forced to leave. He’s expelled because he has been doing a gay thing, so he’s expelled, but Laurie is very struck by him, and when he’s leaving Ralph gives him like the Phaedo [note: I remembered this wrong! It’s the Phaedrus, which actually is what I said first but then I questioned myself and corrected myself and cut it out of the audio recording and by the time I realized my first instinct was the right one, it was already too late], and then many years later, Laurie is injured in World War Two. He ends up at this hospital and he falls in love with this like—

Rose Lerner

Wait, Laurie is the prefect or Laurie is—

Gin Jenny

Laurie is the other one, like the non-prefect, yeah. Ralph is the prefect. So Laurie ends up at this hospital. He’s been badly injured at Dunkirk, and there’s a conscientious objector Quaker guy called Andrew, who’s very drippy, but Laurie falls in love with at this hospital, but then he’s also reunited with Rafe, so he has to kind of like—

Rose Lerner

Oh my gosh.

Gin Jenny

Yeah! And Ralph’s very sexy and Andrew is very innocent and he’s like, oh I can’t like tell Andrew about being gay because then his innocence, etc.

Rose Lerner

Let me guess: Andrew already knows about being gay.

Gin Jenny

I don’t want to spoil it for you. But then Ralph is—like he reunites with Ralph at a party, it’s the best party scene in all of literature in my opinion, and Rafe is like extremely sexy, wants to get with Laurie, and he’s in this sort of, you know, spiritual struggle between his, his pure love with Andrew and his sexy love with Ralph.

Rose Lerner

Is his pure love with Andrew like not sexy?

Gin Jenny

So it’s complicated. He and Andrew do kiss one time, and then he’s like, oh, like, you know, it would be so pure if nobody knew about it, but if people saw it, then it would, it would seem sexy, and Andrew’s innocence would be spoiled. But it’s superb, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Rose Lerner

Okay! Since I’ve now talked about Raffles so much, I just feel like I should warn people if you’re going to read it: The second story—I mean there’s like xenophobic and like racist and anti-Semitic things sort of sprinkled throughout, but the second story in particular, “A Costume Piece,” is quite bad, so just like either don’t read it or be prepared.

Gin Jenny

Yeah, I should say for The Charioteer it has kind of Mary Renault sort of typical things like a real suspicion of feminine gender performance by any gender. So that kind of comes up throughout The Charioteer, it’s kind of a mess. Okay, I’m so sorry that I like drew you on this long Bunny/Raffles tangent.

Rose Lerner

It’s all I ever want to talk about, so…

Gin Jenny

So, but I do want to kind of talk a little bit about the process of doing an audiobook original, like what was the process of working with the audiobook narrator, because you mentioned earlier that you had communicated with them. So like how closely did you work with her?

Rose Lerner

I had made some notes in the book about sort of like my vision of the different characters. I really tried to not be like too prescriptive, because I wanted the narrator to have freedom to like make different choices or whatever, but like, more, you know, in case it was helpful, like the actor that I imagined and then like some information about people’s like accents and like stuff like that, class backgrounds. So they sent the book to the narrator, and then she had the option, if she wanted to get in touch with me to talk to me about the book, and she did, so we had a phone conversation where she asked me like characterization questions and stuff like that; and then she had some like second round questions as she was going, we had like another call, but that was pretty much it. I really loved Elsa’s audition and I could tell like in the phone calls that like the book was in safe hands. You know, clearly like she got it.

Gin Jenny

Well, good! I’m glad it was such a good experience and I mean I love the end result. I thought she did a really really great job.

Rose Lerner

I’m so thrilled with how it turned out. I really appreciate like Audible going the extra mile to find somebody that like spoke Portuguese and like, yeah, I just couldn’t be happier. I did like an AMA with Elsa where I asked her some questions and I asked her some like questions that were submitted by readers, and that is on YouTube, if anybody wants to watch it, and it’s linked from the extras page on my website as well.

Gin Jenny

Oh awesome. Okay, well I’ll link to that as well.

Rose Lerner

She goes into like a lot of sort of nitty gritty like performance and recording stuff. I was fascinated because it’s like, definitely like an artistic angle that like I just don’t know a lot about. And she had a lot of like really smart things to say and was like really—explained a lot about her process and was really, it was great.

Gin Jenny

Awesome, well, before I let you go, what are you reading right now?

Rose Lerner

Well I am reading Suleikha Snyder’s Big Bad Wolf and really enjoying it. It’s delightful. I get the impression that it’s like—this doesn’t actually mean anything to me because I did not watch the series—but it’s like a Punisher AU. I think like it was inspired by her love for the Punisher character on one of the Marvel shows.

Gin Jenny

I’m nodding vigorously, but I do get Punisher mixed up with Venom and I know those are two extremely different, Marvel Superheroes.

Rose Lerner

Venom is like the Spiderman alien symbiote. Punisher—the character is played by an actor who is sort of a similar type to Tom Hardy, which I think might be why you’re confused.

Gin Jenny

Yeah that probably is why. He’s some kind of vigilante?

Rose Lerner

I don’t know what the deal is. Anyway, so it’s like this guy, and he’s just a regular guy, but he’s like a werewolf and he’s got— He was running around, he went in the Army, and they made him a werewolf, but he killed a bunch of like Russian mafiosi, and the heroine is on his like defense team.

Gin Jenny

Oh great.

Rose Lerner

I’m also reading The Edwardians and Their Houses: The New Life of Old England, Timothy Brittain-Catlin. I’m researching my next couple of projects, so the other books that I’m reading are mostly like research stuff.

Gin Jenny

Can I ask what you’re working on next?

Rose Lerner

So I’m working on the sequel to The Wife in the Attic, which is going to be about Iphigenia.

Gin Jenny

Oh, yay!

Rose Lerner

So like I don’t know if you remember, but she goes to work as a lady’s companion for somebody else in the neighborhood. So it’s going to be about that situation.

Gin Jenny

Oh, wonderful.

Rose Lerner

I’m excited. So I’m working on that, and then I’m also working on co-writing a mystery with Katie Welsh, which is still in the very early stages, but I’m very excited about it.

Gin Jenny

Oh, that’s awesome. That’s so exciting.

Rose Lerner

I’ve never co-written anything before.

Gin Jenny

Yeah, it seems really hard.

Rose Lerner

Like I’ve always kind of wanted to do a mystery, but I am bad at plot. But she agreed to keep track of the plot.

Gin Jenny

Well, fantastic. Um, well, so where can people find you online?

Rose Lerner

So, my website is RoseLerner.com, like all my books are listed there, and I also have like a ton of extras up there too. So you’ll see there’s like an extras tab, you can check that out. I’m on Twitter @RoseLerner, that’s L E R N E R. I have other social media accounts but Twitter is the one I use the most. I also have a Patreon, which is also roselerner. In there I share, like every week I share like a little something of what I’m working on which like most of the time ends up being like cool research stuff. But yeah, I think those are the main places that I am

Gin Jenny

Awesome! And the book again is The Wife in the Attic, it is an Audible Original, it’s so good. Everyone should definitely read it ASAP. And Rose, thank you so much for joining me! This was awesome!

Rose Lerner

Thank you for having me! Thank you for letting me talk a bunch about Bunny and Raffles, the only real thing in the world!

Gin Jenny

I mean that’s all I wanted.

The post Episode 143 – Interview with Rose Lerner, Author of The Wife in the Attic appeared first on Reading the End.